The current Lexington High School softball players’ roster was not even a gleam in their mothers’ eyes the last time the program played for a state title.
On Friday before an electric home crowd, the Lady Wildcats earned that elusive championship berth with a 3-0 home win over Ashley Ridge in the Class 5A Lower State final.
The win snapped a four-game winless streak in Lower State finals this year by Lexington teams. It was also the 16th straight victory on the season for Lexington (23-3), whose last loss occurred March 29 at home against defending Class 5A champion White Knoll.
Now, for the first time since winning the Class 4A title in 2001, the Lady Wildcats get to play for the right to succeed the Lady Timberwolves starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in a Best-of-Three Class 5A final series against J.F. Byrnes.
The Lady Rebels defeated Fort Mill 6-1 to advance to their third straight Class 5A final.
“We just knew that our goal was always to win in the end and we’ve made it to the end and we came together as a team,” first-year Lexington High School head coach Laurie Epps said. “The great thing about this group is it’s not about one player or two players, they generally play for each other and know what it means to be a team and that’s why we’re where we are.”
“After the loss to White Knoll, we just all came together like, “We’re not going to let this determine our season. We’re going to keep working and just get the job done,” she said.
University of South Carolina signee Hannah Kumiyama accounted for two of the three runs scored by the Lady Wildcats. Sarah Gordon’s RBI double in the Bottom first proved more than enough with Light on the mound.
“I was feeling great going into this game,” Light said. “Throughout the seven innings, I was focused on keeping my team pumped. I was just keeping the momentum going and just doing what I can to help us go out with a win.”
Not only did Kumiyama contribute at the plate, but in the field. In the top seventh, she managed to get the second out of the inning with the putout throw from rightfield to first base.
After the Lady Swamp Foxes managed a two-out infield single, Light got the next batter on 3 pitches to set up the infield celebration.
“Everything’s a lesson,” Kumiyama said. “If you take it as a lesson, it’s not really a loss. If you don’t learn from it, you take it as a loss. So we learned from it. We didn’t worry about it much, so I think we’re back. We’re playing as a team. Everything’s good. We’re feeling good. We’re just trying to get a state championship.”
S.C. HIGH SCHOOL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Dutch Fork at Blythewood 1 p.m.
Lexington at J.F. Byrnes 6:30 p.m.